Military News

Monday, June 20, 2011

Navy Lt. Runs 100 Mile Endurance Race to Honor Fallen Service Members

By Lee H. Saunders, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (NNS) -- A Navy Lt. competed in the ultra-marathon San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run to honor fallen service members, June 12.

"I completed the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run after 31 hours and 32 minutes of continuous forward motion in the Laguna Mountain Recreational Area, and on the Pacific Crest, Noble Canyon, and Cuyamaca Trails 10 miles south of Julian, Calif.," said Lt. Paulstephen Chierico, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) officer with Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Public Works Department (PWD). "The temperature swing over the entire event was dramatic, from a high of 77 to a low of 37. I started at 7 a.m. on the 11th of June and ended the next day at 2:32 p.m. on the 12th of June. There were 175 entrants, but only 106 finished the course, so that's about a 40 percent dropout rate. Also it was not only 100 miles in duration, but the sum of all the elevation change was nearly 25,000 feet."

Chierico, Camp Pendleton PWD military construction program manager, is competing for more than the personal challenge of completing 50 and 100 mile ultra-marathons. He is also competing to raise money for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. military and the families of deceased and injured service members.

"I was running the Oriflamme 50K trail race on March 19th, 2011 and while running it struck me that I was only really doing that for myself, for my own fitness goals and to expand my endurance limits," said Chierico. "I was inspired by stories of Navy SEAL David Goggins and Marines Rob Hillery and Mosi Smith, and thought that if they can run to raise money for worthy military charities, then so can I."

He contacted two charities that support injured service members and the families of injured and deceased service members about the possibility of raising money for their charity work. Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund (IMSFF) and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) agreed to let him run under their names to raise funds.

"I gathered a lot of strength and motivation from knowing that I was raising funds and awareness for both the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors," said Chierico. "I know that injured service members and bereaved dependants have sacrificed so much for my freedom and liberties that I enjoy, I just wanted to do some small thing to give back to them. It pales in comparison to the trials that they face on a daily basis, but it's my expression of support for them."

IMSFF is a nonprofit corporation that provides immediate financial support to injured and critically ill U.S. Armed Forces members and their families. TAPS administers free emotional support programs for families of deceased U.S. Armed Forces members.

"I see a lot of parallels between life in the military and ultra-marathon events like that," said Chierico. "Throughout you have to remain focused on the end goal, regardless of the pain or discomfort of the moment. Also, I had a great crew of officers from work helping me throughout the event, so you learn to rely on and trust your team mates."

U.S., Japan May Announce Readjustment in Relocation Timeline

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2011 – There will probably be a readjustment of the timeline for relocation of U.S. troops in Japan, said senior administration officials speaking in advance of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee Meeting tomorrow.

The officials, speaking on background, would not get ahead of any announcement from what is informally called the 2+2 meeting, but did imply there will be a delay.

“It does not take a math prodigy to look at the calendar, look at the original timelines that were laid out, look at the progress that has been made and make a determination about what can and cannot be completed by 2014,” a senior administration official said. “I think you can expect to see coming out of the meeting tomorrow a readjustment of the timeline going forward in a way that is more realistic and in a way that will allow us to achieve our joint and mutual goals.”

Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto and Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates at the State Department tomorrow for the first 2+2 meeting since 2007. The purpose of the meeting is to underscore the strength and vibrancy of the alliance and its role as the cornerstone of stability in the region.

The meeting has additional significance coming so soon after the triple disasters of March 11 -- the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear situation. “We’ve emerged from the tragedy of March 11 stronger and more vital,” an official said.

The officials expect the joint statement at the conclusion of the 2+2 will reaffirm the U.S. commitment to a robust force posture in East Asia and will update the common strategic objectives for the alliance. It also will include a blueprint to strengthen the bilateral alliance and outline alliance cooperation in a regional and global setting.

“The discussions will focus on a wide range of regional and global issues including the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, Afghanistan, missile defense technology transfer and the realignment of our forces, particularly in Okinawa,” a senior administration official said.

The 2+2 will reinforce the value of U.S. forward presence in Japan, including on Okinawa, an official said. U.S. forward-deployed presence serves as a critical element of the nation’s treaty commitment to defend Japan and to contribute to peace and security in East Asia, as well as the overall U.S. defense posture as a resident Pacific power.

The U.S. government remains committed to the current plan to maintain a forward presence in the region “that is geographically distributed, operationally resilient and politically sustainable,” the official said.

Navy Week Kicks Off in the Quad Cities

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Steve Johnson, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

DAVENPORT, Iowa (NNS) -- Quad Cities, of Iowa and Illinois, Navy Week 2011 launched June 16 with a variety of events aimed at increasing awareness of the U.S. Navy.

Quad Cities Navy Week events, including this weekend's annual regional air show starring the Navy's Blue Angels, featured appearances by the Navy Rock Band "Horizon" on local radio and television stations, as well as at various free music venues open to the public throughout the five-city region, which encompasses Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Rock Island, Moline, East Moline in Illinois.

Quad Cities Navy Week is one of 21 Navy Weeks scheduled across American in 2011. Navy Weeks are designed to educate Americans on the importance of naval service, understand the investment they make in their Navy, and increase awareness in cities which might not otherwise see the Navy at work on a regular basis.

Rear Adm. Thomas Cropper, Commander, Strike Force Training Pacific, was in the studio of 97X-FM celebrities Dwyer & Michaels' morning show to present key messages of the Navy.

Following his radio interview, Cropper was presented keys to all five cities by respective mayors of Davenport, Bettendorf, Rock Island, Moline and East Moline, as well as a proclamation declaring June 15-22 Navy Week in the Midwest cities nestled along the banks of the Mississippi River.

The pilots and crews of the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, The Blue Angels, met with TV news reporters on the tarmac at the Quad City International Airport in Moline, Ill., for personal interviews, and visited a local hospital and a local high school summer program.

Quad Cities Navy Week will proceed next week with official visits by Rear Adm. Tilghman D. Payne, Commander, Navy Region Midwest, as he tours area manufacturing plants as well as the Rock Island Arsenal, and conducts meetings with community groups and business leaders throughout the Quad Cities region.

Pacific Partnership Team Competes in Dili Marathon for Peace

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Michael Russell, Pacific Partnership 2011 Public Affairs

DILI, Timor-Leste (NNS) -- Fifty Pacific Partnership 2011 team members ran in Timor-Leste's second annual "Marathon for Peace" in Dili, June 18.

Sponsored by Timor-Leste President Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta, the race is designed to promote peaceful social conditions in order to support national stability, sovereignty and unity in the island nation.

The event included a full marathon (42km), a half-marathon (21km), and a 7km "fun" run. With more than 6,500 people in attendance, Pacific Partnership members supported the event by running in the race, providing medical support, and performing live music for the participants.

During an awards ceremony after the race, Ramos-Horta, a Nobel laureate, thanked Capt. Jesse A. Wilson, Pacific Partnership 2011 mission commander, and the entire Pacific Partnership team for attending the race and being in Timor-Leste.

"I want to mention the presence of Pacific Partnership being here in Timor-Leste," said Ramos-Horta. "Capt. Wilson, you are very welcome here, so consider this a welcome for your country to come here as often as you can."

Pacific Partnership is an annual humanitarian assistance initiative sponsored by U.S. Pacific Fleet. Aimed at improving interoperability between host and partner nations, the team is comprised of volunteers from non-governmental organizations, representatives from partner nation militaries, such as Australia, Japan, Canada, Spain, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and representatives of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and the Marine Corps.

"The devastating tsunami that hit Indonesia in 2004, was the genesis for this mission," Wilson said. "The leadership in our country decided that we would return to this region annually, and this year our doctors, nurses, engineers, and veterinarians are working side by side with Timor-Leste's doctors, nurses, engineers, and veterinarians to provide an increased quality of care for the people of Timor-Leste, as well as increased capacity and sustainable services."

Legalman 1st Class Kenya Desroches, who ran the half-marathon, was surprised by the amount of people in attendance.

"Stepping into the race, at first I felt overwhelmed because there were so many people there, but I got into a groove and everything went smooth," said Desroches. "Wow, I've never actually seen that many people in one place at one time, especially in a race."

During the past two months, the Pacific Partnership team has treated more than 20,000 patients, provided 25 surgeries, completed ten engineering projects, cared for nearly 1,000 animals, engaged in nearly 30 community service projects, and developed countless friendships in Tonga, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea.

During the past five years, Pacific Partnership has provided medical, dental, veterinary, educational, and preventive medicine services to more than 230,000 people and completed more than 150 engineering projects in 15 countries.

Family Matters Blog: Tips to Ease Summertime Moves

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2011 – As our seasoned military families are keenly aware, the end of the school year typically marks the start of a high-volume moving season.

Service members commonly know the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day as “PCS season,” which refers to permanent-change-of-station moves. Many families aim to move during that stretch of time to avoid disrupting their kids during the school year.

On average, the military moves about 600,000 shipments a year, and more than a third of those moves take place over the summer. John Johnson, the chief of the personal property branch for the Army’s Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, told me in a recent interview.

With this summertime surge in mind, I asked Mr. Johnson for his top tips to ease the moving process for service members and their families. His tips include:

– Stay organized. Create a personal moving calendar with checklists, phone lists, to-do lists, and links to critical moving processes and information.

– Find out options early. Contact your transportation office as soon as possible to learn about your moving options, including a personally procured move, former known as a do-it-yourself move, or DITY.

– Don’t hesitate to ask. It’s never too early to ask questions, and your transportation office is your primary point of contact for customer service.

– Start early. Once you get your orders and know the dates you want to move, immediately start the moving process. The sooner you start, the better the chance you’ll lock in the dates you want.

– Know your weight. Having a good estimated weight of your personal property and household goods is very important. An easy and dependable method for making this estimate is to figure about 1,000 pounds per room. Keep in mind this is only an estimate and individual shipments will vary.

– Don’t be a no-show. Pack, pickup and delivery dates are scheduled on weekdays. You or your designated representative needs to be available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. You don’t want to miss your moving dates, as this will cause unnecessary hardship on everyone.

– Lock your move date in. Once you’ve selected your moving dates, don’t assume they’re set. Your moving dates are not confirmed until you coordinate with your carrier or transportation service provider.

– Be flexible. Moving in the summer months is extremely busy, with June being the busiest moving month of the year. Your preferred dates may not be available during this time. You will need to be as flexible as possible and always leave some time in your schedule for unforeseen circumstances.

– Lighten the load. Moving is a good time to dispose of unnecessary items. This will help avoid excess weight charges for being over your authorized weight allowance. You don’t want to ship and pay for something you didn’t want anyway.

– Reweigh if needed. You can request a reweigh of your personal property shipment at no cost. This is usually done when you are near or over your weight entitlement.

– Separate shipments. If you will have multiple shipments, clearly separate them at your residence. Multiple shipments should be scheduled on separate days to avoid confusion. You want the right items going to the right destination.

– Update contact information. Defense Personal Property System places you in direct contact with your carrier to manage the movement of your personal property. It is extremely important to ensure your phone number, email address and contact information is updated and current in DPS.

– Stay in close contact. If you have a delivery address for your personal property and want a direct delivery it’s important to work closely with your carrier or transportation service provider to arrange delivery. This will avoid your personal property being placed in storage.

For more moving tips or information on allowances and responsibilities, see the “It’s Your Move” pamphlet for service members or the “It’s your Move” pamphlet for Defense Department civilians. Or, visit the Move.mil website. For more information on planning summer moves, check out this Defense.gov article, “Planning is Key for Peak-season Moves.”

Military OneSource also offers families a host of online moving resources, including “Plan My Move,” which features a moving calendar and travel and arrival checklists, and “Military Installations,” which links families to information about their new base and the local community..

Do you have any moving tips or lessons-learned you’d like to share? Don’t hesitate to write in.

MCPON Concludes Navy Week Chattanooga

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Abraham Essenmacher, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Public Affairs

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (NNS) -- The Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPON) of the Navy concluded his visit to Navy Week in Chattanooga, Tenn., June 13-15, with a visit to a local Children's hospital, a frocking ceremony and radio interviews with local stations.

MCPON(SS/SW) Rick D. West enjoyed spending time in Chattanooga, an area he considers to be part of his hometown, sharing the Navy story and showing Americans the investment they have made in their Navy.

"It's been a great experience interacting with the local community and giving them insight about what Sailors are doing every day around the world, and that their Navy is truly a Global Force for Good," said West.

MCPON, local Sailors and Sailors from USS Constitution passed out Navy command ballcaps to children during a 'Caps for Kids' event at the T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital in Chattanooga, Tenn.

"It was exciting to watch their eyes light up with joy when asked if we could make them an honorary Sailor," said USS Constitution's Command Master Chief (CMDCM)(SW/AW) Roxanne Rhoades. "I hope the children walk away with a smile and a sense of encouragement because we want them to know that not only do their families care about them, but the Navy and our Sailors care about them as well."

After visiting the children, MCPON stopped by the Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Chattanooga to frock six Sailors to their pay grade and hold an All Hands Call.

"I'm always excited to be a part of Sailors advancement ceremonies," said West. "It's a memorable time for them because they work hard to achieve this milestone in their careers."

MCPON spoke to the Sailors, thanked them for their participation in the Navy Week and took time to answer their questions.

"Our reserve Sailors are a very important part of our Navy, and it's important for me to stop by to visit with them and let them know they are doing great things," said West.

Finishing Chattanooga Navy Week, MCPON stopped by a couple of local radio stations for some on-air time to talk about the Navy and the importance of Navy Weeks in areas like Chattanooga.

Chattanooga Navy Week is scheduled to run through June 19, and is one of 21 Navy Weeks across the country this year. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they make in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence.

Airman Missing in Action From WWII Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Staff Sgt. Marvin J. Steinford, of Keystone, Iowa, will be buried on June 21 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  On March 24, 1945, Steinford, along with nine other crew members, bailed out of their B-17G Flying Fortress bomber over Gic, Hungary.  It had been hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire while on a bombing mission over Germany.  Steinford and another crew member were struck by small arms fire while parachuting into a firefight between Soviet and German forces.  The remains of the other crew member were found after the war where they had been buried by Hungarian villagers.  The remaining eight members of the aircrew were captured by the Germans, held as POWs, and released at the end of the war.

According to accounts gathered by U.S. Army Graves Registration Service personnel in the late 1940s, Steinford’s body was seen beside a German tank near Gic, but no further details about his exact whereabouts were recorded.  Growing tensions in Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe closed off further U.S. access to Hungary.

In January 2003, in an effort to develop archival leads in Hungary from the Vietnam War, Korean and Cold Wars and World War II, a U.S. commissioner with the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs met with Hungarian officials in Budapest.  Additional follow-up in Hungary by a DPMO researcher began to uncover specific information related to Steinford’s loss.  A second DPMO staff member, assisted by Hungarian academics and researchers, discovered archives and interviewed villagers who related first-hand information about the B-17G crash.  Shortly thereafter the U.S. Embassy in Budapest notified DPMO that a local cemetery director had information directly related to Steinford.

He related that during a 2004 excavation and transfer of Soviet soldiers’ remains at a war memorial and grave site in the city of Zirc, Hungarian workers discovered remains with a set of identification tags that bore Steinford’s name.  The dog tags were removed and all remains were transferred to another site on the outskirts of Zirc.  What was believed to be Steinford’s remains were marked with the Hungarian word “Cedulas,” [translation: the one with the tags] and reburied.  The dog tags were returned to U.S. officials in March 2005.

From 2005 through late 2007, DPMO facilitated negotiations between U.S., Hungarian and Russian officials.  Finally, in December 2007, the U.S. chairman of the commission secured agreement with the Russian first deputy minister of defense to allow a July 2009 exhumation from the war memorial site by specialists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC used dental comparisons in the identification of Steinford’s remains. 

At the end of the war, the U.S. government was unable to recover and identify approximately 79,000 Americans.  Today, more than 73,000 are unaccounted-for from the conflict.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo.  Photos are available of Steinford and can be obtained by calling 703-699-1169.

Navy Explores Military Medical Partnerships with Vietnam

By U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy's top medical corps officer discussed areas of mutual interest with senior military officials of the government of Vietnam during their visit to the United States, June 15.

Navy Surgeon General Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson Jr. met with Lt. Gen. Tran Quang Khue, vice chairman of Vietnam National Committee for Search and Rescue, and deputy chief of the General Staff, People's Army of Vietnam; and Senior Col. Gen. Vu Quoc Binh, surgeon general, People's Army of Vietnam; where they explored areas of enhanced military partnerships related to military medicine and medical research.

Robinson began discussions of possible military medical partnerships with Vietnam's military medical leadership in 2008, and visited the country in June 2010, to continue the dialogue. During the meeting in Washington, Robinson reemphasized the value of establishing global partnerships to meet common challenges.

"Medicine and medical research are universal languages," said Robinson. "Diseases affect us all the same way. By working together in areas such as infectious disease research, we help not only both our nations, but the world meet these health challenges."

In addition to discussions of collaboration on infectious disease research, other areas of discussion included HIV, Dengue fever, malaria, zoonotic diseases, infection control and undersea medicine.

"Military medical partnerships have been one of the best examples of the positive growing relationship between our two countries," said Binh. "We fully support Vietnam's medical cooperation with our U.S. counterparts."

Both countries continue to participate in high-level diplomatic exchanges, taking place both in Vietnam and in the United States. The most recent was Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus' trip to Vietnam Nov. 28, 2010, where he met with military leaders in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam's Naval Headquarters in Hai Phong, where he expressed the importance of building a strong bilateral relationship.

"As we look to the future, there is great potential for our two navies to work closely together on areas of mutual interest like maritime security, search and rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as well as peacekeeping operations," said Mabus.

The United States and Vietnam have engaged in several medical engagements over the past years including the June 2010 visit of the Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) visit to Quy Nhon, Vietnam, as part of Pacific Partnership 2010 (PP10). While there, the PP10 team worked alongside the people of Binh Dinh Province to deliver a variety of humanitarian and civic assistance programs ashore and on board the hospital ship.

"We have seen great mutual benefit from our recent medical engagements with Vietnam and look forward to identifying additional opportunities to work together in areas of public health research, medical education and other areas," said Robinson. "I am inspired by the spirit and enthusiasm of these discussions and look forward to enhanced relations between our two countries."

Robinson oversees a global health care network of 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide high quality health care to more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.

Task Force Delivers 'Human Message' To Haiti

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

FORWARD OPERATING BASE MANDRIN, Haiti, June 20, 2011 – Stepping off the Black Hawk helicopter here, the scene is similar to that of many forward operating bases in Afghanistan.

High mountains peak in the distance, concertina wire separates the space between the troops and the nearby village, and rows of tents stand in formation with the ropes on their window flaps struggling to keep them in check against a gusty wind. Colorful portable toilets flank the tents on all sides, easily visible among a sea of green and tan.

But a walk down the makeshift gravel road that cuts through the heart of the site reveals one glaring omission.

Weapons.

Gone are the big war machines decked out in armor and firepower. And the 400 troops here are not slinging M4 machine guns, grenade launchers and sundry belts of ammunition.

Make no mistake. The weapons are here, just not in sight.

"We try to minimize the exposure of the weapons," Army Maj. Wynn Nugent, operations officer for Task Force Bon Voizen, said. "It sends a bad message, especially being here on a humanitarian exercise. We still carry them because we need to, but we try not to display them."

Perched on high ground in the Artibonite department, or province, the troops deployed here operate similarly in many ways to operations overseas. Almost all of the U.S. military services are combined for a joint mission. Also, a handful of foreign militaries have teams here. They form up under a single command structure to carry out their operations with military precision.

And the site is almost entirely self-sufficient. Only local fuel and some transportation are contracted. Satellites and radio antennas jut from the tent tops providing communications locally and to and from the states. Thousands of gallons of water are pumped and purified daily from an on-site well for the troops. Food and vegetables are shipped in and trucked to the chow hall where hot meals are provided daily. Helicopters buzz in and out delivering fresh troops and discharging those returning home.

But that is pretty much where the comparisons stop. Task Force Bon Voizen, which translates as “good neighbor,” serves as a picture-perfect image of the U.S. military's soft-power efforts, and the task force's only enemies here are time and budget.

While the troops call leaving the base "going outside the wire," it is actually a few flimsy strands of concertina, easily infiltrated by guineas, dogs, pigs and the occasional donkey.

Its primary purpose is to keep people from walking through the base camp to visit those living in the surrounding community.

"When they see it, they don't come through," Nugent said. "It's for their safety more than ours. We have machinery moving through here, big vehicles moving around."

The Haitian government chose this region for the task force’s efforts, chiefly because of the influx of residents after last year's earthquake. Thousands left the devastated Port-au-Prince area, seeking food, shelter and jobs in the surrounding rural areas. The Artibonite area is about 70 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince, and Haitian officials would rather improve the infrastructure here than have the displaced return to the already overcrowded inner city that is still struggling to recover.

Since the task force began its mission at the end of April, it has treated more than 800 dental patients and nearly 23,000 medical patients. That includes delivering a few babies, providing emergency surgery and constructing a mouthpiece for a child born with a cleft palate so that he can eventually learn to talk.

Its veterinary technicians treated almost 1,500 area animals. And the engineers will leave here next week after building one school, two clinics and bathroom facilities.

For their efforts, the troops here have received "nothing but love," Nugent said.

"What we're doing here is a drop in the bucket for what these people need, truthfully. But we're providing them just a glimmer of hope," Nugent said. "We show them, 'Hey, the world's not giving up on you. We're here and we're fighting for you.'”

Nugent said the locals are poor by American standards, but they are easygoing and hardworking. Some gather outside the fence, but they are just curious.

"You don't see a lot of begging. If they are asking for something, they are asking for a job," he said. "They want to work and earn what they receive. They are not just looking for a handout.

"They love America. They love Americans. I think they would be the 51st state if we let them," Nugent added and laughed.

But while Nugent joked, it is exactly that sentiment that U.S. officials hope to instill, especially in these years following the earthquake.

"The real value is … we're having incredible positive impact on the lives of disenfranchised Haitians," Dan Foote, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy said during a visit to the site today. "And in doing so, we're also sending the broader message that the United States is a friend of Haiti, and we are going to be here in the good times and the bad.”

Foote called Haiti a "great friend" to the United States. Exercises such as these are critical to maintaining that relationship, he added.

"This is an on-the-ground example of real, tangible assistance to the population," he said.

The task force is commanded by members of the Louisiana National Guard, but troops from other states have joined in for two-week rotations including Florida, Massachusetts, Georgia, North Dakota, Colorado and New York.

The Army Reserve provided military police and engineers. Active-duty Marines provide civil affairs support, and the Air Force provides weathermen and medical staff.

Foreign countries supporting the efforts as an official part of the task force included doctors from Colombia and Canada and engineers from Belize.

Additional support also came from the U.N. peacekeeping force here as Japanese engineers volunteered to help on a project. Policemen from Argentina provided crowd control at medical and dental sites in the cities.

And international nongovernmental organizations such as People to People International and Operation International Children donated 2,500 school supply kits for the task force to distribute.

This year's exercise launched from a similar operation here last year, put in place to help with earthquake relief. Budget cuts already have tightened the belt of this year's operation as it transitioned from operational funding to an exercise with a different funding pot.

An exercise isn’t planned for next year, but one is on the books for 2013, officials said.

Only a handful of events remain before the closing ceremonies next week. The rest of the month will be spent returning the land that the base now sits on to its original condition. The last task force member is due to leave the first week of July after settling all of the contracts and paying the vendors.

But even as task force members prepare to leave, officials agree that the impression made here will last, for many locals, a lifetime.

And, as Washington begins it budget battles and senior Defense Department leaders are forced to make hard funding choices, military and civilian officials here hope that this exercise doesn't end up on the cutting room floor.

"These are the sort of things that don’t create political messages, but create human messages," Foote said. "Our hope here, from my point of things, is that we can continue to do exercises and missions like this into the future, because every time we do that we win a new generation of hearts and minds."

Boy Scouts Learn About USS Constitution

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kathryn E. Macdonald, USS Constitution Public Affairs

ALTAMONT, Tenn. (NNS) -- USS Constitution Sailors taught Boy Scouts about the ship's 213-year history in Altamont, Tenn., June 17.

Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Roxanne Rhoades, Sonar Technician (Subsurface) 1st Class (SS) Mark Comeiro, Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class (SW) Jacob Wallace, Aviation Electrician's Mate Airman Matt DeAngelo and Fireman Jakquelynn Mejia participated in the event as part of Chattanooga Navy Week, June 12-19.

"Being an Eagle Scout myself and following the Scout oath and law, allowed for an easy transition into the Navy," said DeAngelo. "I hope that they were able to see how everything I learned from the Scouts has helped me and that it will challenge them to a potential future of serving their country."

Sailors also ate lunch with the Scouts and then answered questions about their jobs in the Navy and what they specifically do aboard Constitution.

"Having the Sailors talk to the Scouts really excited them," said Jim Bowen, chaplin, Skymont Scouts Reservation. "It will be a moment that they will remember for the rest of their lives."

Sailors assigned to Constitution undergo 20 weeks of naval history training along with additional weekly training.

The primary purpose of Navy Week is to increase Navy awareness by presenting the Navy to Americans who live in cities that normally do not have a significant naval presence. Chattanooga Navy Week showcased the mission, capabilities and achievements of the U.S. Navy and provided residents the opportunity to meet Sailors firsthand.

Constitution is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston and is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat. The ship welcomes more than 500,000 visitors a year.

USS Constitution Sailors Help Homeless

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kathryn E. Macdonald, USS Constitution Public Affairs

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (NNS) -- USS Constitution Sailors volunteered to help at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen in Chattanooga, Tenn., June 17.

Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Roxanne Rhoades, Sonar Technician (Subsurface) 1st Class Mark Comeiro and Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Jacob Wallace, assisted with organizing food supplies and preparing lunch as part of Chattanooga Navy Week, June 12-19.

"I think it's wonderful to have the Sailors here," said Kathy Spangler, Chattanooga Community Kitchen volunteer coordinator. "We wouldn't be able to keep our doors open without our volunteers. It impresses me to see the passion behind the Sailors and for them to take the time to help out."

Sailors assigned to Navy Operational Support Center, Chattanooga, USS Tennessee (SSBN 734), Navy Recruiting District Nashville and Navy Office of Community Outreach also helped at the Community Kitchen.

"Being able to volunteer outside of my command, in another state no less, is amazing," said Wallace. "This place runs on volunteers; without it, the people who are truly in need wouldn't have a place to get away from the harshness of the streets. We're doing something bigger than ourselves."

The Chattanooga Community Kitchen helps support the basic needs of humans with a safe environment through food, shelter, employment, health care, case management, showers, restrooms and supportive services.

The primary purpose of Navy Week is to increase Navy awareness by presenting the Navy to Americans who live in cities that normally do not have a significant naval presence. Chattanooga Navy Week showcased the mission, capabilities and achievements of the U.S. Navy and provided residents the opportunity to meet Sailors first hand.

Constitution participates in more than 50 volunteer projects annually. The ship is the recipient of the 2009 and 2010 President's Volunteer Service Award and Commander, Navy Region (COMNAVREG) Middle Atlantic (MIDLANT) Good Neighbor Flagship award for small shore commands in 2010.

COMNAVREG MIDLANT presents the award to commands that have the best year-round community service program or special project that encourages activities to provide humanitarian assistance to the less fortunate.

The ship is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. She is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year.

Rugged tablet computers make their move in military logistics applications

Mar 1, 2008


By John Keller


People in the military who routinely use checklists ought to consider rugged tablet computers—particularly if they work outside or in other potentially harsh operating environments, manufacturers say.

“You don’t want to carry a laptop on a carrier flight deck; you want a tablet strapped to your leg or your waist,” says Jim Vercruyssen, product manager for tablet computing at General Dynamics Itronix Corp. in Spokane Valley, Wash.

The rugged tablet computer market breaks down essentially into two segments: the convertible, or a laptop computer with a reversible touch screen; and the slate, which has a touch screen, some function buttons, but no keyboard.

“The slate market is a small-form-factor, powerful handheld device in a form more like a clipboard,” Vercruyssen explains. “Anything you do in paper, like a checklist or inventory, is easily converted to a slate.”

Think of a slate computer as a large-screen PDA with a much faster processor, Windows-like functionality, and often with a direct wireless network connection to computer servers to convey data in real time, and also to lessen the need for large amounts of data storage in the tablet, like hard disks.


Rugged tablet computers like the General Dynamics Itronix
Duo-Touch Tablet PC, shown above, are gaining in
popularity for applications involving checklists and clipboards.

“Anyone who is doing forms applications, like lists and field inspections, is a potential user of rugged tablets,” says Robert Farr, business development manager for the Panasonic Computer Solutions federal segment in Secaucus, N.J. “On the flight line are a lot of tablet users, and also anyone doing logistics, moving inventory, and doing any kind of checklist operations.”

The popularity of tablet computers—particularly for military and aerospace applications—is growing, and manufacturers are responding with several innovations.

Although the market for rugged laptop computers is about three times the size of that of rugged tablets, the rugged tablet market is growing much more quickly, says Ben Thacker, vice president of strategic marketing at General Dynamics Itronix.

“Our rugged tablet customers are asking for information assurance; this is why you see growth in the rugged market in general,” says Panasonic’s Farr. “Users need to access information anytime, anywhere—especially in mission-critical applications where they can’t have data fail.”

So how rugged is rugged where tablet computers are concerned? “MIL-STD-810F is really the benchmark,” says Itronix’s Vercruyssen. “You’re really not considered rugged unless you meet those. Industrial products, at a minimum, have to meet 810F for shock and vibration, and IP-54 for dirt, dust, and water intrusion.”

For battlefield military applications, rugged tablets must meet IP-65 standards, or even better, Vercruyssen says. These kinds of applications are somewhat rare in today’s military, however. “On post and in staging areas are where tablets really shine,” he continues. “In battlefield conditions there is not a lot of paper, so you don’t get the full advantage of the slate.”

Click photo to view larger version
Contributed by Bob Johnson's Computer Stuff